"Pieces Cup really just changed how we even think about
marketing," said Reese's Senior Brand Manager Ryan Riess. "In the
past, we never talked about a product until we had 60%
distribution. It was not even when it came out, it would probably
be a month or two after it was already on shelves."
The Reese's Pieces version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is
doing so well that Hershey is adding more pack sizes including
miniatures and a 12-pack. Sales in 2016 were more than four times
what the team expected, Mr. Riess said.
"I thought it was going to be huge but I didn't realize it was
going to be this huge," he said.
After the success of the Pieces Cups, Reese's decided to try to
build buzz for the newest iteration, Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups,
with crunchy chocolate cookie pieces mixed in.
"We wanted to really spark the conversation, I'm not sure how
much we wanted to lead the conversation," Mr. Riess said.
The effort began on Feb. 23 with vague teasers about something
that might be coming from the brand. As people would comment and
make suggestions about what it might be, Reese's would respond and
try to keep the guessing game going. Fans posted guesses including
whether it would be the return of a product, such as a cup with
caramel, an "inside out" cup, or even the cup from about 20 years
ago that had a layer of chocolate cookie on the bottom.
"The biggest thing that we didn't know is that balance between
how direct and how subtle to be," Mr. Riess said.
In fact, Reese's went back to its agency partners after some
subtlety did not break through as anticipated. A Feb. 25 post with
a cookie recipe was a hit. But nearly no one mentioned how the
brand's Cupmoji character came into the short video post in a
cartoon including a folder marked "cupfidential" with the file
number 5517 (a hint at the date it would be available in
People commented on and shared the recipe, but the cupfidential
aspects were barely mentioned.
So, the Reese's team and its agencies decided on the Cupspiracy
board, a more direct way of mentioning clues. Reese's worked on the
project with external partners including Soulsight, Arnold, Havas,
UM and Ketchum.
"The board came about in one day after we saw that the campaign
wasn't picking up the steam that we wanted," Mr. Riess said. "It
was too subtle."
The Cupspiracy board came together quickly and remained a key
element in the campaign moving forward. In all, Reese's posted six
times before revealing the product on March 9.
The board gave more energy to consumer theories, which played a
role in the way the work came together as the campaign progressed.
Reese's would monitor engagement and work with media buying agency
UM to determine when the next post might be needed and when to plan
for the reveal.
"The critical moment was when fans got to the point where they
were really excited and just wanted to figure out what this product
from Reese's was," Mr. Riess said.
The campaign did not have a firm end date, though the team knew
that it had to wrap up early enough to allow time to switch the
brand conversation to two other big spring projects, NCAA March
Madness and the upcoming Easter holiday.